Social worker struck off after leaving diary at service user’s home

The Care Council for Wales said the social worker “lacked remorse"

Photo: alexkich/fotolia

A social worker in Wales has been struck off the register after leaving a bag containing his professional diary and other confidential information at a service user’s home.

The Care Council for Wales’ fitness to practise committee said the social worker showed a persistent lack of insight and repeatedly failed to accept any responsibility for his actions.

His removal from the register was the only appropriate sanction, the committee concluded.

The social worker left his bag, which contained his social work diary, meeting minutes and a £40 reimbursement for a foster carer, at the service user’s home on 11 December 2012.

He took no immediate action to retrieve his belongings, despite receiving a text message from the service user notifying him that the bag had been left behind.

He replied to the text message at 10am the next day and agreed to the service user’s suggestion that he should collect the bag from her at a group meeting, which was taking place later that afternoon.

The exchange of the bag was witnessed by a team manager from children’s services.

‘Policies and procedures’

The social worker also failed to report the incident to his manager. The matter was only brought to the attention of the council after a professional agency made allegations in January 2013.

The social worker was suspended pending an investigation. He was later dismissed by the council for gross misconduct. The social worker appealed this decision, but it was upheld.

The social worker admitted that he had left the bag and its contents at the service user’s home and took no action to retrieve it, other than the arrangements made via text message.

His witness statement said he had made a “judgement” about retrieving the bag based on his assessment of the circumstances at the time and taking into account the practical reality of the situation. He conceded he could perhaps have taken more immediate action to retrieve it prior to the meeting, but could not recall what other duties he was undertaking at the time.

He also said that guidance on how to respond to a suspected breach of data protection was “nowhere to be found” in the council’s own policies and procedures.

Senior managers from the council contested this information – they said the social worker, who was a union representative, would have been aware of the need to report the incident.

The committee considered this evidence and concluded there was a clear expectation of the social worker to report the incident and take immediate steps to collect his bag.

‘Lack of remorse’

The committee acknowledged that this was an isolated incident and not deliberate or premeditated. However, the social worker’s failure to protect the confidential information of service users was “compounded by his lack of remorse, insight, respect to senior management of the council and acknowledgement of any wrong-doing”.

He also turned up late to the conduct hearing and left before the main section had started. This showed a “serious disregard” for the Care Council’s code of practice, the report said.

The committee concluded that removal from the register was the only sanction that would be effective in protecting the public and maintaining the integrity of the social care profession.

More from Community Care

27 Responses to Social worker struck off after leaving diary at service user’s home

  1. Truth seeker June 28, 2016 at 8:33 pm #

    This is not a striking off matter

  2. Paul Bennett June 29, 2016 at 11:51 am #

    DTo Whom It May Concern,

    I am appalled at The Care Council for Wales’ decision. Let’s be real about this, we all make mistakes, we’re only human. I would agree that the social worker should have realised the data protection/ confidentiality implications. However to be struck off! Ridiculous. Possibly offering training in protecting confidential information would have been more sensible.

    Yours faithfully

    Paul Bennett

    • Michael July 1, 2016 at 6:07 pm #


  3. Rochelle C June 29, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    The initial incident might be a striking off matter, but they way he handled it after showed poor form.

    “He also turned up late to the conduct hearing and left before the main section had started.”

    Why would you do either of these when your Conduct is being questioned. This would lead me to believe there might be more issues under the surface.

    • Rochelle C June 29, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

      Sorry, meant “The initial incident might NOT be a striking off matter”

  4. Stuart June 29, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

    We’re told nothing of the worker’s (possibly) exemplary previous work & service above & beyond the call of duty or what was going on in his head to make him a. forget the bag and b. fail to collect it immediately but my guess would be that if he’d received appropriate management support & guidance he might have responded very differently to and at the committee hearing and a (probably) valuable and valued career might have been saved instead of cast to the wolves who surround us all.

    • Elisa July 2, 2016 at 1:21 am #


  5. Starslider June 29, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

    This is absurd, struck off for leaving a diary behind! I’m sure many people in other professions have done this and not lost their lively hood. Seems draconian to me!

  6. Pancho June 29, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

    I am gobsmacked. What harm accrued from this? The people on that panel need to be struck off!

  7. Graham June 29, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    I agree this seems rather draconian, given that it seems the service user did not actually access or use any confidential information so no harm was actually done. However it also seems that the social workers casual attitude to the incident and the proceedings may have tipped the balance and been his undoing.

  8. Hannah June 29, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    And this is one of the reasons why I have decided to immigrate to another country where social workers are treated less harshly. The job is no longer worth the stress.

    • Susan Okonkwor June 30, 2016 at 12:01 am #

      Which country is this Hannah

  9. Tom Hughes June 29, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Absurd. Nobody should lose a career over this. I left my diary at a service user’s address once too. Will I get struck off? This is a mistake, not professional malpractice.

  10. Kristina Jones June 29, 2016 at 6:47 pm #

    He actions at the conduct hearing demonstrate arrogance and his actions in being so cavalier when it comes to protecting the privacy of others convey a shocking lack of insight into the sensitivities of his role. Quite rightly struck off IMO.

  11. Sandy June 29, 2016 at 11:03 pm #

    I find this gobsmacking this social worker was struck, off for what?

  12. Peter Teague June 30, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    Totally inappropriate response. Sounds like they were out to get him for other reasons that are probably based on perceptions. Reminds me of police action regarding the Cardiff three. Not model citizens so best removed from the street under some pretext. SW needs mavericks who do not always conform to managements vision. Maybe a training/supervision issue but struck off?

  13. Saffron Jones June 30, 2016 at 10:22 am #

    At a time when Social workers are few,where they have little support for their jobs,and continued risks in their work due to financial changes,their work seemingly requires multitasking,a word invented to say you have to be superhuman,is it any surprise how many of us will have found ourselves in this very situation if not on pa with it an another way?…. at least once in our career? There is more to this story then presented, for one we don’t have his side of things.

    I wonder how many social workers have complained and sued councils for the many errors and pressures placed on social workers unreasonably? How many times do social workers get an apology for the way that they may have been treated? Very few I suspect.

    I am sure that my performance in my late 50’s is not as efficient as it would have been when I started Social work in my early 20’s. God knows what could happen,yet I am told that I am an very experienced and capable SW. Please….

  14. Sheril St Rose June 30, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    Are the HCPC serious? This could have happened to anyone and most definitely does not constitute misconduct. I am appalled !

  15. Old School June 30, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    Obviously we dont have all of the details here however this decision by CCW seems a bit zealous when compared to other incidents to which practitioners have been ‘struck off’. I am fairly sure that there would be another option for the Social Worker here in seeking a judicial review of the decision.
    The reason I would suggest this are that there needs to be some sort of scale of sanctions once someone is found to have practiced poorly. What is described here seems to imply the Social Worker did not leave his belongings deliberately and had no intent to breach the Data Protection Act. This should have been taken into account by the regulator and also the appeal process should have considered this – also in light of how he has reflected on the incident – shown remorse etc.

  16. Debbie S June 30, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    With the information given in this report I would agree that the original action may not have been a striking off offence, his subsequent behaviour was appalling. I would be beside myself if I had left work stuff at a service users house. I would most definitely have picked it up, if not when I was made aware of the mistake, then certainly after work that same day. We don’t know if the service user looked through the paper’s in his bag. As already said, this opinion is made from the information given in this report.

  17. Hamlyn June 30, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

    Leaving behind confedental document in a clients home is not a very professional thing to do. Also he didn’t take immediate actions to rectify this mistake. What if this client decided to read the material left behind ? personally I find the S/W behavior to have been very questionable , maybe losing his job was a bit harsh . I do have many years of being involved with S/W during a10 year carera of fostering
    Some were good some not so . They were always very quick to judge any mishaps F/C might have done , many extremely good F/C. Lost their positions on the recommendations of S/W , sending them back to panel , would have liked to have seen them do the job . Also during my time I never shared or left behind documents deemed as confidential.

  18. Kimberley June 30, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

    As a student sw I agree this was poor practice, and maybe he should have been temporarily suspended due to the risk of a breach of confidentiality for the SUs in his diary.

    However, I do think being struck off is too harsh. I work really hard to get where I want to be in this career we all do, we all want to make a difference and to lose everything due to a mistake is too harsh in my opinion, we are humans not robots! The added worry of being struck off for just about anything will not make social workers more competent, it will make them more stressed!

    Was he receiving the appropriate amount of supervision? Was his case load unmanageable? Was he overworked, having to deal with the endless paper work and constant social work reforms? – There’s always a bigger picture to look at, that’s what I’ve been taught anyway!

    • Kimberley June 30, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

      Having said that, his response certainly does not help his case! As others have said I would have panicked having left anything at a service users house and would have reported the incident/ been on time!

  19. Tracey BC June 30, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    I can’t help but think that a part of the harsh decision to remove the worker from the register is due to an affronted Care Council – how dare he turn up late for their ever more frequent hearings, and not to stay for the good bit either, and him being a union representative too!!!
    I would like be optimistic and consider that this is ‘artistic licence’ on Conmunity Care’s part and that there is more to the Care Council’s decision than meets the eye but sadly I think not.

  20. Mol June 30, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    I left my diary in a service user ‘s home many years ago having travelled 150 miles to see the family. It was before mobile phones, they posted it back to me and I sent them a thank you card!

  21. Peter Teague July 1, 2016 at 2:52 pm #

    Can’t help thinking the fact he was a Union Rep had a great deal to with this decision.

  22. Kelly July 5, 2016 at 3:35 am #

    If this chaps practice is poor consistently, then suspension should be on the cards. I am compelled to defend if it’s “one off” incident. Are we not supposed to be a caring profession. Sadly managers have less empathy these days and are heavy handed driving social workers out of the work force.